Booster seats are a vital part of protecting kids during a car crash, and a relaunched website from Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center aims to help parents make the right choices.
Per Washington state law and national safety guidelines, children should be in a car seat or booster seat until they are at least 4’9” tall – usually between ages 8 and 12. Cars and trucks are designed for adult passengers, so seat belts don’t fit children under that height without the help of a booster seat.
BoosterSeat.org provides an online hub of information and resources for selecting and using the right equipment.
“A booster seat helps all of your vehicle’s safety features protect your child during a crash,” said Beth Ebel, M.D., the Safe and Active Transport section lead at HIPRC. “Putting a child in the right seat, every trip, every time, is incredibly important for keeping them as safe as possible.”
Research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has found that booster seats reduce a child’s risk of serious injury or death during a car crash by 45 percent.
Ebel, a pediatrician, said parents should set the example by always wearing their own seat belt correctly, which teaches children to take car safety seriously. When it comes to vehicle safety, consistency is key.
“At Harborview Medical Center, we will do everything we can to save lives after a car crash,” Ebel said. “But when everyone in the car is wearing a seat belt correctly, and kids are in the right car seats and booster seats, it goes a long way to helping prevent serious injury.”
During the winter months, cold weather can also present unique safety challenges:
- Transfer your child’s car seat or booster seat with them every time they switch vehicles, such as if they ride in a relatives’ car.
- Remove bulky winter coats before buckling your child into a car seat or booster seat. A blanket or coat can be tucked in over the straps once they are fastened.
- Remember hats and mittens can also add warmth without interfering with straps or seat belts.
Consistency is key when it comes to booster seats, and it’s important to use them every trip, every time, all year long. In Washington state, drivers can be ticketed if they have passengers under age 16 who are not properly restrained by the right car seat, booster seat or seat belt.
For more information on booster seats, guidelines, installation advice, laws and additional resources, visit www.boosterseat.org.